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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces part of
Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval Story

Walter B. Norris

published by
Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1925

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 1
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p. vii  Foreword

In his "Richard Carvel" Winston Churchilla paints a charming picture of the society of Annapolis in the days just before the Revolution. The figures are largely fictitious, the setting a novelist's adaptation of history, but the whole a truthful portrayal of the life of the time. The authentic story of the town has, however, never been told briefly and comprehensively enough to secure the attention of the average American, and this fact is the justification for the present volume. In it an effort has been made to picture especially the homes of Colonial Annapolis, the family histories of the principal inhabitants, the life of the clubs, theaters, and coffee houses, the controversies that dot the pages of the Maryland Gazette, the manifestations of activity in literature and art, and the dignified patriotism of the Revolutionary struggle.

He who writes the history of Annapolis finds himself drawn in two different directions. One is the delightful aspects of Colonial society just  p. viii mentioned, the other the history and life of the United States Navy as developed in the institution for the training of its officers which has here always had its home. Both deserve fuller treatment than they receive, and the proportion of space devoted to each can be justified only by the interest of the reader, but the author regrets that more of the material available on each could not be included.

In the story of any town traditions have an honored place, and the present writer makes no apology for including, as traditions, statements for which no direct proof is discoverable. But in giving history, not hearsay, he has endeavored to qualify all statements which are not verifiable. Even if Annapolis may therefore not claim that its original State House was the product of the brain of Sir Christopher Wren, or that its theater was the first in America, it still possesses adequate attractions for any one to whom the past is more than an outworn garment to be discarded and forgotten.

In the preparation of the material here presented, the author is under obligations to many persons, not all of whom are named in the  p. ix bibliographical footnotes. To the staffs of the Maryland State Library and the Library of the United States Naval Academy his debt has been constant and their patience great. The librarians of the Maryland Historical Society, the Peabody Library, Baltimore, and the Division of Manuscripts of the Library of Congress have also been generous with their interest and assistance.

The chief unacknowledged debt is to Scharf's "History of Maryland," a monument of painstaking scholarship; to David Ridgley's "Annals of Annapolis" and to Elihu Riley's "The Ancient City," that rich compendium of extracts from the Maryland Gazette and of its author's inexhaustible memory, recourse has been had on many an occasion.

For the illustrations which do so much to convey to the reader the architectural and other artistic charms of the town, I am under special obligation to Professor Eugene P. Metour, of Williams College, for the privilege of reproducing some of the etchings he executed while a resident of Annapolis. Without these, and the drawings by Mr. Vernon Howe Bailey here  p. x reproduced by permission of Harper's Magazine, the appeal of Annapolis to the artist could not be adequately portrayed. I am also indebted to Mr. Louis Ruyl, of New York, and to the Lucky Bag of the Class of 1922, U. S. N. A., for permission to use illustrations which it was later found impossible to include. In the same way I wish to express appreciation for similar courtesies from Mr. E. S. Olmsted, of Des Moines, Iowa, father of the late Jerauld L. Olmsted, editor-in‑chief of the Lucky Bag above mentioned.

Thayer's Note:

a No, not that Winston Churchill, even if he was for a time First Lord of the Admiralty; but his close contemporary the American novelist, who was a graduate of the Naval Academy, Class of 1894. The two are often confused, and apparently were acquainted.

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Page updated: 7 May 13